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Govt begins talks for consensus on office of profit
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 25
The UPA government today initiated the process of evolving a political consensus on the office-of- profit issue, after the ordinance route backfired badly, resulting in the resignation of the National Advisory Council Chairperson Sonia Gandhi from the Lok Sabha.

Taking a cue from the demand of the Left parties to settle the issue on the floor of the House, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi today held consultations with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after talking to Communist leaders, who prop up the Congress-led coalition from outside.

Dasmunshi also meet the Leader of the Opposition, Mr L.K Advani, as parliamentarians cutting across the party lines are affected by this issue which has become a major controversy with the disqualification of the Samajwadi Party member and cine star Jaya Bachchan from the Rajya Sabha for holding office of profit.

BJP leader Jaswant Singh told reporters after a meeting between Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi and Leader of the Opposition L.K Advani that the party’s view was that it would give its views on a legislation only after the details of it are known to it.

About the timing of the session, he said it was for the government to decide but it has to convince the Opposition of the urgency of it.

The talks with different political leaders ranged on the nature of the amendment that needs to be brought about to define the term office of profit so that it is not arbitrarily and politically used against anybody. He also discussed on the proroguing of Parliament, which had been adjourned sine die following government’s claim that it had no business to transact.

In his 25-minute meeting with Prime Minister, Dasmunsi is understood to have conveyed the views of Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D. Raja that a Parliament session must be convened and a consensus evolved on a legislation to exempt certain posts from being described as offices of profit.

The issue assumes significance in view of a plethora of disqualification petitions having been filed against a number of MPs and MLAs, including Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

The Prime Minister is understood to have conveyed to Dasmunsi to work out an amicable solution with all political parties to put a lid on the entire controversy revolving around the office-of-profit issue, sources said.

Besides Chatterjee, nine other CPM MPs face petitions for disqualification. The issue assumed importance in the light of petitions against Sonia Gandhi, who, however, stole the Opposition thunder by resigning from both her Lok Sabha seat and Chairpersonship of National Advisory Council.

Yechury told Dasmunsi that when the issue of Samajwadi Party MP and Jaya Bachchan’s disqualification cropped up, they had asked the government to bring such a law to define ‘offices of profit’ and list them out.

Till date, neither the legislature, nor the Supreme Court have actually defined it, Yechury is understood to have told Dasmunsi and suggested that an all-party meeting be convened on the issue, if required.

Raja said the government should convene a session of Parliament so that a consensus could be evolved and a legislation be enacted to resolve the problem.

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